The same raging debate surfaced again on talk radio the other day: who has it easier, the 'stay-at-home' mom, or the ‘working’ mom.
Even the label 'working mom' infuriates - and rightly so - the mom whose work is it to take care of her children 24 hours-a-day. Of course, the fact 'stay-at-home' dads are not considered in the equation infuriates me, but that's another blog-post altogether.
The problem with the debate is: both sides demand a winner be declared, when, in fact, neither can be clearly defined as easier than the other. Yes, I know, I'm not a mother, but I have spent plenty of time working long hours outside the house, as well as many being a 24/7 father. I've noticed whenever I'm working outside the home for a long stretch, I look forward to returning to being a full-time parent. Conversely, during a period of day-after-day not stop parenting of two young children, a couple of weeks at a desk surrounded by adults sure sounds great.
Defining one of these scenarios as absolutely more difficult depends on too many variables; most of all the incredibly unique and infinitely different personalities of both parents and children. And to a lesser degree, the following:
While at work:
• Colleagues may want your attention, but they don't hang off your pant leg to get it.
• You bathroom-time is alone-time...always!
• When you hold up your index finger to let people know you're on the phone, they generally apologize, and wait their turn.
• If the person sitting next to you doesn't like their lunch, you don't have to cook them something else, or threaten to take away their Blackberry.
• When a colleague falls asleep, it's not your cue to continue dusting, vacuuming, and doing the laundry.
• Co-workers will hardly ever talk to you two at a time as though the other one doesn't exist...especially not when you're in the washroom.
• If someone at work is sick, they either stay home, or you keep your distance from them. You don't have to keep them hydrated, change their soiled diaper which leaked onto fresh sheets (which now need washing), fetch their meds, and wonder how soon you can call the clinic before they tell you you're overreacting.
• After lunch, you don't have to spend 30 minutes cleaning up, and then start thinking about pulling everything out again for a company supper.
• You're not surrounded by group of people who, for eight consecutive hours, communicate at the level of a Tickle-Me-Elmo.
While at Home:
• Play dates not only provide relief from baby talk, but also demonstrate other children are even crazier than yours.
• Unlike adults at an office, your kids never ask silly questions which they could answer themselves by taking one minute to search Google on the computer the company provided them.
• You never get stuck in traffic on your way to parent, especially on the only day you're due to give a presentation to the board.
• There are moments, however rare they may be, when the kids nap a little longer, play on their own, and let you have some tea. If only I could get my office mates to nod off for two hours.
• When people see you're a very busy and efficient and parent, they're not so impressed they bring their children to look after.
• People don't call you at home asking you explain to the repairman, who is standing in the living room, what sort of sound the heat pump was making before it went on the fritz.
• You don't have to leave home at rush hour, after eight hours of parenting, and arrive at work just in time to walk into the office and pitch in with supper.
• You can't be fired from parenting, leaving you wondering how to provide your family's next meal.
There. Nothing solved. No winner.
At the end of it all, I only need be declared a winner by 3 people, the ones who share this home.
I agree with the last statment 1000% EVERYONE else can have THEIR opion---only the folks at MY HOME COUNT 4 ME!!!!!
Poping in with vB =)
Posted by: Pamela R | Feb 15, 2012 at 10:59 AM
You're definitely right - there is no winner! Once you have kids, all jobs become a little harder, but I think we just try to do our best for our families.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
Posted by: Kristina | Feb 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM
While you are in a unique position (and good for you! I love dads who aren't afraid to actually be dads!), I think that women especially need to stop looking at other women only to criticize. The way we parent, the way we look, what we eat, how we spend our days... nothing is free from censure. I think life would be so much more simple if everyone would just do the best they can, and assume that everyone else is doing the best they can as well.
I especially love your last line.
Posted by: Katie | Feb 15, 2012 at 01:02 PM
I just can't believe we still have to have this debate. You are right, there seems to be a need to have a winner, which in turn makes us all losers. Shouldn't we as parents be fighting for better health care, better childcare, more paid time off for all employees, better education. I can't help but wonder if there is a bigger plan at work, if we are fighting each other we can't solve the problems that would benefit us all. Thanks for a great post!!
Posted by: Kathy | Feb 15, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Great breakdown of the pros and cons of being at work vs. home. And so true!! And you're right, there will never be declared winner, because there simply isn't one. Families have to make the decisions that work best for them and their circumstances. The key is not why, but HOW they make it work. And quite frankly, who are we to judge and why are we to judge? We typically judge others only when we are questioning ourselves. The more comfortable we are with our own decisions, the less likely we are to judge others for theirs. At least, that's how I see it. :) Another great post!
Posted by: Lynn Reilly | Feb 16, 2012 at 09:13 AM